Jet-setting from city to city might seem like a dream job, but anyone who travels for a living will tell you life on the road ain’t easy, even if you happen to be staying at a business-traveler-friendly hotel like Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. Luckily, smartphones hold an arsenal of tools for those who live nomadic lifestyles — and these 10 free apps will help you stay on track.
Sunrise (iPhone & Android) let you go above and beyond your smartphone’s built-in calendar. It imports information from Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn into your schedule. Not only does it provide a smoother, easier-to-use interface, but it also pulls profile pictures and contact info right into your agenda (perfect for anyone who has trouble remembering names). It's like having an assistant at your side, except you won't mind when Sunrise pries about your personal life.
CardMunch (iPhone) transcribes business cards from photos, essentially turning your smartphone into a virtual Rolodex (if you can even remember those contraptions). Not only will it help you get rid of and organize all those piles of business cards, but since the app is owned by LinkedIn, it automatically finds the contact’s profile and pulls in highlights. Use it at your next business meeting for an instant conversation starter: you can dish about your shared connections, or show them you’re one step ahead of the game by instantly being able to add them to your social networks.
Anyone who has ever scrambled to find a confirmation number while checking in at the airport needs to download WorldMate (iPhone & Android). Forward all your confirmations to a secure email and the app builds an itinerary compiling flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. You can also sync up your calendar and use tools like a currency converter, tip calculator, and weather forecasts.
More and more businesses are using Google as an email platform and for file sharing, and if you own or employed by one of them, Google Drive (iPhone &Android) is a must download. The app allows users to upload and access documents from their phone, fostering cloud-based collaboration whether you’re just a cubicle away in the office or waiting by a baggage carousel in Bali.
Feedly (iPhone & Android) makes keeping up on industry news simple. Organize, read, and share news feeds in one user-friendly app, making it easy to stay up-to-date while traveling. And you better download it quick: right now users can sync the app to feeds saved to Google Reader, which is slated to disappear on July 1.
Grokr (iPhone) was designed with busy people in mind. It uses your location and the time to provide personalized updates that can include anything from weather and traffic notifications to the latest headlines and movies showing near you. It basically curates the internet based on your interests, allowing you more time concentrate on work and less time checking your news apps .
Any.Do (iPhone & Android) is the perfect app for those who need to get organized (or who simply enjoy the satisfaction of checking things off of lists). Tackle your to-do lists by grouping items by date, or separate items based on categories such as “work” and “personal.” Even better, you can sync Any.Do with multiple devices and share your lists with colleagues, family members, and friends. No matter how hectic your schedule, this app will help you remember to pay your cable bill or pick up your dry cleaning, making your laundry list of things to do easier to manage. Of course, if you're lucky enough to be staying at a Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott, take advantage of same-day dry cleaning and laundry services, making one task on your to-do list completely hassle-free.
See exactly where every dime goes with Mint.com Personal Finance (iPhone & Android). The budget management app organizes your expenditures into categories and creates graphics so you can see just how much money you’re spending on things like bills, gas, food, clothes, and double shots of espresso. It also sends you bill reminders, meaning you won't rack up late fees while on the road.
Expensify (iPhone & Android) is a business traveler’s dream, mainly because it takes the nightmare out of keeping track of business expenditures. It streamlines the whole keeping-track-of-expenses thing by documenting your hours in real-time, recording mileage via GPS, importing expenses from your bank account, or capturing paper receipts with your camera. And the best part may be that it automatically generates an expense report that you can submit for reimbursement — all from your phone. (Hallelujah!) To really streamline, stop by the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott business center to print your expense report so you can review everything on the plane.
Traveling throws our normal routines off balance. With Sleep Cycle (iPhone), an app that suggests the best times for you to wake up, you can focus on quality sleep — which cycles through phases of light sleeping and deep sleeping — instead of a set number of hours. For $0.99, an upgraded version of the app uses the accelerometer in your smartphone to monitor your movement and determine which sleep phase you are in, waking you only when you are lightly sleeping. Now you'll feel rested even if you stayed up schmoozing until 2 AM and then woke up bright and early to finish up that presentation.
Add these apps to your download queue and prepare for your productivity to skyrocket. And the best part is, since these apps help you streamline your workflow and manage your time, you’ll spend less time looking at your phone and more time enjoying your trip.
Libby Zay is a Baltimore-based traveler and writer.